Sponsors' legal dispute threatens Stanford Twenty20 match

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The Independent Online

England's one-day cricketers would be well advised to delay laying down a deposit on a new house or flash sports car because they may yet be deprived of the chance of competing for what would potentially be their biggest ever payday. Doubts that Sir Allen Stanford's $20m (£10.9m) winner-takes-all Twenty20 match on 1 November will take place remain as the West Indies Cricket Board has failed to settle a commercial rights row between its principal sponsors, the telecommunications firm Digicel, and the Texan billionaire.

Digicel claims that its five-year sponsorship deal with the WICB includes the Stanford match because the board has officially sanctioned the game and the team who take the field will be the West Indies in all but name. The mobile phone network provider believes its agreement allows it to advertise its brand on the shirts of the Stanford All-Stars and that WICB had no right to sell the title rights for the game to Cable & Wireless, Digicel's main telecommunication rival in the Caribbean. Stanford counters that his team are not official and so outside of any existing sponsorship deal

Three weeks ago the High Court in London placed an injunction on the Stanford match at the request of Digicel and arbitration is due to begin on 3 October. Last Friday the WICB and Stanford proposed a compromise, which was turned down by Digicel because it did not allow it to place branding on shirts. Both parties are blaming each other for the stalemate, with neither seemingly willing to take a backward step on whose name should appear on the Stanford All-Star shirts. That England's sponsors are Vodafone, whose logo will appear on the shirts of Kevin Pietersen's side, is hardly likely to smooth things over.